Where is Home?

On the District H campaign trail, Karla Cisneros talks about being a 30-year resident of Woodland Heights.

Roland Chavez talks about growing up in the First Ward and moving to Woodland Heights.

Jason Cisneroz talks about living in the Near North Side.

Abel Davila talks about residing in the Second Ward. At last night’s District H candidate forum at the Montie Beach Community Center, Davila was asked by a voter where he lived and how many homes did he have? Davila said he lived in Second Ward and once owned a million dollar home in the The Woodlands and now has two residences in District H – the one in Second Ward and one in Woodland Heights. It was kind of a testy exchange.

Obviously, there is something going on if that question is being asked.

The next District H candidate forum is next week in Woodland Heights. I wonder if Davila will tell forum attendees that he is a resident of Woodland Heights.

The ESPN Sunday Night Baseball teams for Sunday evening, September 27, have not been announced. As of today, only two games scheduled to play that day feature four true contenders and will likely be considered for the Sunday night game. Name the teams?

These tweets from this morning are related to banning cell phone use in H-Town school zones.

Bill King ‏@BillKingForHou 56m56 minutes ago
Budget for mayor and council offices up $12 million since 2009. But we cannot find $2 million to protect our kids?

Ericka Mellon ‏@e_mellon 1h1 hour ago
Houston candidate Bill King said he would have the school zone cellphone ban signs up within 30 days if mayor.

Like I said, it is hard to argue against this.

The Chron’s Rebecca Elliott has a story today on endorsements in the race for H-Town mayor. Here is how it starts:

Houston mayoral candidate Sylvester Turner has the backing of the city’s three unions. Do you care?

The C Club, a group of top conservative donors, supports former Kemah Mayor Bill King, and a handful of Houston pastors publicly have thrown their weight behind 2013 mayoral runner-up Ben Hall. Will that impact who you vote for?

For most Houston voters, the answer likely is no. Rather, political observers said, a candidate’s ability to marshal support from political power-brokers demonstrates viability to deep-pocketed donors and, in certain instances, provides the campaign with added organizational muscle.

“Endorsements are primarily an inside game that influence money and, on some occasions, votes,” local political analyst Nancy Sims said. “But to the overall voters, it usually doesn’t matter.”

Here is the entire article: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/politics/election/local/article/Candidates-tout-endorsements-but-do-voters-care-6483963.php?cmpid=btfpm.

On Sunday, September 27, the Cubbies host the Pirates and the Rangers visit The Yard of course.

Sunday night baseball in H-Town would be nice.

After this weekend’s series with the Twins, the ‘Stros go on a ten game roadie then return for their final nine game homie. It is not too late to plan for a game or two. The team needs your love.

Our lead is still at two.

Have a nice Labor Day weekend.

In Two Months

Two months from tonight the votes will be counted.

I guess it was worth it to get up this morning and head out to the Near Northwest Management District Mayoral Candidate Forum. Ben Hall and Rep. Sylvester Turner mixed it up on pensions.

Council Member Steve Costello started using some of Bill King’s lines on HPD stats.

We found out CM Costello, Adrian Garcia and Marty McVey live inside the loop and Chris Bell, Hall, Bill, and Rep. Turner don’t.

CM Costello hit Rep. Turner’s timeline on adding more police officers.

The HERO was not brought up until Hall did in his closing.

The grub was nice.

Coming back from an eatery on HWY 290 and Bingle was definitely a challenge.

The District H candidates will participate in a forum this evening at Montie Beach.

Which MLB division has the closest race for first place?

Commentary said this yesterday:

There is certainly no argument here. It is just a matter of priorities. I am talking about the City of H-Town dropping the ball big time on cracking down on cell phone use by drivers in school zones.

Well, the Mayor continues to hold her ground – sort of – according to today’s front page Chron story by Ericka Mellon. Here is the entire piece:

Mayor Annise Parker said Wednesday that she is not convinced that installing signs alerting drivers to a 6-year-old state law banning texting and the use of hand-held cellphones in school zones is worth the cost.

The question is whether the city has any choice.

The 2009 law prohibiting cellphone use in school zones states that cities, counties or other political entities “shall post a sign” at the start of each school zone about the ban. Such signs were posted years ago in other major Texas cities – Austin, Dallas and San Antonio – and in Houston’s neighbors, including Conroe, Bellaire and the villages in Spring Branch. Harris County also has put up signs in school zones it covers.

But, citing a $2.34 million price tag for installing the signs, Houston opted not to do so and has not issued citations in the belief that without the signs, the law was unenforceable.

However, in addition to the directive that cities “shall” post signs, the law says that ticketed drivers could defend themselves against prosecution if no sign advising of the cellphone ban was posted.

Former state Rep. Dan Branch, the Dallas Republican who sponsored the bill, declined Wednesday to state whether Houston was violating the state law.

“I think the bill should speak for itself,” said Branch, an attorney.

Parker said Wednesday that school districts could assume responsibility for enforcing the cellphone ban, noting that they have their own police forces.

“They have the ability to do this,” she said. “They have defaulted to the city, and our position has been we want a statewide ban (on texting while driving anywhere). We want a clear and consistent policy, not just in the school zones.”

Parker added that the decision not to mount the signs also comes down to cost. The city estimates the signs would cost $300 each for 7,800 signs in school zones covering numerous districts.

However, the Texas Department of Transportation said the price tag should be about $100, assuming the cellphone notice could be mounted to existing school zone signs. Dallas officials said the material cost for signs installed in 2010 equaled about $10 each, and Austin paid about $47 each for signs and labor, according to city representatives.

Harris County Precinct 4 estimated the material cost for its internally produced signs at $12 each.

The city’s price difference may be attributed to anti-graffiti coating and mounting hardware, said spokesw0man Janice Evans.

State transportation department spokesman David Glessner confirmed that a school district with a police force that enforces traffic laws should be able to place the signs on most roads.

“It comes down to the cost of installing the signs – who bears that cost and whether there’s enough of a benefit to make it worthwhile,” Parker said. “Clearly if it saved one child’s life, it would be a worthwhile investment.

“But we don’t believe that putting up a bunch of signs stops anybody from doing anything. Because if they don’t already know it’s dangerous to do … I don’t think there’s any education we can do to stop people from being stupid. It’s an enforcement issue.”

Houston school board president Rhonda Skillern-Jones said Wednesday that she planned to discuss the issue with her fellow trustees.

“I would like to see there be some cooperation between the school district and the city,” she said. “The safety of our students should be a collaboration between the two entities.”

Marney Sims, general counsel for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD, said she was surprised to find out that the district’s three schools under city jurisdiction did not have the cellphone signs. She said she planned to verify that the district had the authority to install them. “If we do,” she said, “then we will pay to add those.”

Parker, talking to reporters after a City Council meeting Wednesday, noted that she had led a public awareness campaign against texting and driving. She wrote a May 2013 opinion piece in the Chronicle calling on the community to work together to end the practice.

“Public safety is the responsibility of local government,” she wrote. “Saving lives is the responsibility of us all.”

Like I said yesterday. It is a matter of priorities and how you go about changing a culture. If we had had signs put up a couple of years ago, I think folks would have gotten the message. And if one thinks banning texting while driving should be law, why not enact it here by ordinance? Counting on state government – good luck!

The closest division race is in the AL East where the Jays lead the Yankees by 1 ½. We are not far behind with our two game lead over the Rangers.

Only 18,000 plus showed up last night for Dollar Dogs. We can do better. What are you waiting on? SpringerDinger?

Dropping the Ball

There is certainly no argument here. It is just a matter of priorities. I am talking about the City of H-Town dropping the ball big time on cracking down on cell phone use by drivers in school zones. There is no excuse for not having this in place. Here is from Ericka Mellon of the Chron:

Six years ago, state lawmakers hoping to protect students banned drivers from texting and talking on hand-held cellphones in school zones.

The ban, however, has never been enforced in Houston. City and school district officials have opted not to install the warning signs needed to issue tickets, citing a lack of funds.

The city puts the cost at roughly $2.34 million for about 7,800 signs. Based on estimates from the Texas Department of Transportation, however, the price tag should be significantly lower.

Houston lags behind the state’s other major cities and several of its neighbors, including Bellaire, Conroe and West University Place, which installed the signs years ago and enforce the law. With school back in session after summer break, police in some jurisdictions have started issuing tickets for a seventh straight school year.

If they thought this was important, they could find the money. They just don’t think it is a priority.

And this:

Former state Rep. Dan Branch, who sponsored the 2009 school zone bill, said this week that he never anticipated the sign requirement would make the law too pricey to enforce.

“Active school zones require a driver’s undivided attention,” said Branch, a Dallas-based attorney. “It’s hard to put a price on the life of a child.”

And this:

About two years ago, Mock said, the city clarified that HISD could take on the task. HISD, however, hasn’t budgeted funding, either. Mock estimated that the district would need about 2,000 signs to cover all the school zones.

Price estimates differ. Using the city’s figures of about $300 each, including anti-graffiti coating and mounts, the HISD signs would cost about $600,000.

The Texas Department of Transportation estimates the tab at $100 each, assuming the cellphone notice can be added to an existing school zone sign. The price tag for installing independent signs is $450 to $600.

In Dallas, spokesman Richard Hill said the city’s public works department funded the installation of more than 2,360 signs in 2010. He said the material cost was less than $22,700 – or about $10 each.

And this:

Houston City Councilman C.O. “Brad” Bradford, a former Houston police chief, said the signs should be funded.

“What is a child’s life worth?” he asked. “We do a lot of things at City Hall that cost a lot more money. We have a $5 billion operating budget, and to say we cannot find money to erect signs in school zones to help protect children, that’s unconscionable.”

Councilman Ed Gonzalez, a former police officer, said the city should continue to discuss whether the cellphone ban would have a long-lasting impact on safety or whether other measures such as driver education would be better.

Huh! What is there to discuss? Find the money! Having signs up and enforcing the ban would be pretty effective driver’s education.

Commentary has made it pretty clear that I wouldn’t mind a federal or state or local law banning hand held phone devices while driving. If we can’t get that, we at least ought to be doing what the law says we can do. It is just a matter of priorities.

The ‘Stros have tossed 12 shutouts this season. Name the team with the most shutouts tossed?

It is good to see Lisa Falkenberg and the Chron E-Board today write about toning down the rhetoric. We are a community that has pretty much avoided the strife that has hit other communities across the country. Let’s keep it that way and keep the discussion civil and responsible and based on the facts.

There were not any fireworks at last night’s mayoral candidate forum in Garden Oaks. Another good crowd showed up and I am kind of more convinced that a lot of them have not made up their minds.

The Dodgers of course have tossed 18 shutouts this season to lead MLB.

Tonight is Dollar Dog Night, so expect a lot more than the 18,000 plus who showed up last night at The Yard. Our lead is back down to three and SpringerDinger might be ready to take the field this weekend.

Getting Busy

Happy Birthday today to Karla Cisneros! Go to http://www.karlacisneros.com and give her a birthday present, please.

Kuffer says this today about the H-Town City elections:

Turnout will be driven by the Mayor’s race and the HERO referendum.

According to a reliable source, there is another factor to consider – the angry voter who normally does not vote in city elections. You know, the one that Trump has worked up. I am hearing they are going to show up and vote in the H-Town City elections. Why? Because it is an election and they get to express their anger or frustration – you get the picture.

Rick Perry is down to one paid staffer in Iowa. It wouldn’t surprise me if Perry ends up hitchhiking back to Texas any day now.

We have 30 games left. How many are with AL West teams?

It has been a busy summer and it looks to be a very busy September. I am talking about the local races. Tonight’s forum is down the street in Garden Oaks.

Commentary couldn’t make last night’s forum on behavioral health held at St. Thomas University. I was at the Oak Forest Area Dems endorsement meeting. So I missed the action that the Chron’s Rebecca Elliott wrote on Chris Bell popping Adrian Garcia. Here is a bit:

Mayoral candidate Chris Bell took aim Monday night at former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia’s record, the latest attack in a campaign that is shifting negative as Labor Day nears.

The former congressman’s offensive centered on Garcia’s handling of a 2013 case involving Terry Goodwin, a mentally ill inmate left for weeks in a sordid Harris County jail cell.

“If you’re leading what you call the largest mental health institution in our city, then how those inmates were treated becomes a very significant issue,” Bell told a packed auditorium at the University of St. Thomas, where candidates had gathered for a mayoral forum on behavioral health. “You were supposedly the leader of that jail, and how could you have created a system where nobody told you of such a horrific incident?”

Bell and Garcia are competing for the support of Houston’s white progressives, a coveted voting bloc known for reliably showing up at the polls in city elections.

Sporting high name recognition and a strong mid-year fundraising report, Garcia is seen as one of the front-runners heading into November, while Bell has lagged behind.

Responding to Bell’s criticism, which included a question about whether Garcia knew how Goodwin had been treated long before he acted to remedy it, the county’s former top lawman called the case “unacceptable.”

“It shouldn’t have happened. It definitely should not have happened under my watch. But when I found out about it, I took full responsibility. I took action,” Garcia said. “I put policies and procedures in place to keep it from happening again.”

I am sure there will be more action tonight in Garden Oaks.

According to just released Hillary emails, “The Good Wife” is one of her favorite TV shows. Me too.

24 of our next 30 games are with AL West teams of course.

Three dingers last night and a Keuchel win and now our lead is up to four games. Every game is a must win.

Going After Bernie

In the latest poll from Iowa, Bernie Sanders is within seven points of Hillary. I guess you have to say he is running a smarter campaign.

If you want your brother on the Hillary ticket, then you have to go put a hit on Bernie in Iowa. That’s what Congressman Castro did yesterday. Here is from the Tribune:

U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, stumping here Sunday for Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, questioned her chief primary opponent’s commitment to the Latino community, saying U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has “hardly at all” reached out to the growing voting bloc.

“I want to say this in all frankness. I didn’t come here to knock any of the candidates, but Sen. Sanders has not reached out to the Hispanic caucus in Congress, has not reached out to me. I’ve never met the gentleman. [He] has not visited Texas or the Rio Grande Valley,” Castro, a San Antonio Democrat, said during a stop at a Mexican restaurant in Des Moines. “That’s a bit of a concern.”

Contrary to Castro’s statement, Sanders has visited Texas as a candidate, holding July rallies in Dallas and Houston that drew thousands of supporters. Before entering the 2016 race, Sanders came to Austin to speak at a Travis County Democratic Party dinner and IBEW hall.

Here is the entire Tribune article: http://www.texastribune.org/2015/08/30/castro-questions-sanders-commitment-latino-communi/.

I don’t know about attacking Bernie. Heck, he could very well sweep into Texas and get Latino voters excited about his race. Like I said, he is running a smarter campaign.

The ‘Stros have 176 dingers this season but it is only good enough for second best in MLB. Name the team with the most dingers?

This morning, all the local media was covering folks scooping up their Blue Bell. There was hardly any mention if and or how Blue Bell got it right this time. I won’t be rushing to the freezer section any time soon.

I really don’t care what they call that mountain in Alaska. I will say that Gov. Sarah Palin’s Secret Service code name during her VP run in 2008 was “Denali.”

I think there are four mayoral candidate forums this week.

The Jays of course lead MLB with 184 dingers.

We spilt the roadie and our lead is at three.

Every game is must win. Now we have the Mariners in for three then the Twins come in for the weekend. Try to check out a game. There are no giveaways for this home stand but they do have dollar dogs on Wednesday.

Playing to the Crowd

I know I shouldn’t be talking this way but I may as well point this out to those of us who love our local politics and love our ‘Stros. If the World Serious goes to a Game 6, the game will be played at the crib of the AL Champion on the evening of Tuesday, November 3 – Election Night. Wowsa! Now that’s what I call a nice dilemma or good problemo to have.

Name the MLB club with the most playoff appearances as a Wild Card Team?

There have been around 30 or so mayoral candidate forums this campaign season and I think I have missed around one or two of them. So I guess I can be called an expert of sorts on how these forums are playing out.

First let me remind folks what Commentary said yesterday:

Tonight’s Mayoral Candidate Forum is hosted by Super Neighborhood #6 and the Old Acres Homes Citizen Council. I am predicting that Ben Hall will go aggressive on Rep. Sylvester Turner. The setting plays to Ben’s style if you know what I mean.

I was right. The crowd was for the most part was older African American voters. Ben went after the HERO and got some folks worked up. During the forum, a member of the clergy asked the candidates where they stood on the HERO.

Now let me back up. Yesterday morning, at a transportation related forum, the candidates were asked to give a thumbs up or down to the HERO and they did. At the Museum District forum, all the candidates clearly said they were for, against, or would abstain.

Back to last night, Ben Hall was again the only candidate to say he was against. Bill King again laid out his concerns. Adrian Garcia talked more about what he did at the jail but never outright said he supported the HERO. Marty McVey said something about how we should love everybody but never said outright he supported the HERO. Rep. Sylvester Turner laid out that discrimination against anyone was wrong but never said the words “I support the HERO.” Council Member Steve Costello and Chris Bell didn’t attend the forum.

I guess you could say Ben succeeded in getting some of the crowd worked up and it having an effect on the HERO supporters. I bring this up because of one of the arguments I heard a few Saturdays ago at the GLBT Caucus meeting for supporting Sylvester. Let me reprint this from the Chron’s coverage of the GLBT meeting three weeks ago:

“I want to win the HERO ordinance,” longtime caucus member Kevin Hoffman said to a packed hall in the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union building, in northwest Houston. “We need every single vote. If we (GLBT) don’t endorse Sylvester Turner, who can bring the African American vote and coalition with us, we are going to fail.”

That wasn’t evident last night.

Here is what Adrian Garcia told the clergy leader: “If my city attorney ever sent you a subpoena, I’d fire him.”

Like I said, Ben set the tone on the HERO.

If someone else there had a different take, let them put it out. If you weren’t there then you really can’t describe what happened.

This is what happens when you invite the minor candidates:

Marc Campos ‏@MarcCommentary 60m60 minutes ago
She definitely went over her allotted time for closing remarks at the SN6/Acres Home Mayoral Forum. #houvote

So this is what happened at the Museum District forum. Check this tweet:

Miya Shay ‏@miyashay 1h1 hour ago
Tidbit from #HouMayor forum early this week: McVey wasn’t invited, waited at Zaza bar for organizers to change their mind. They didn’t.

Trump called Jorge Ramos a “Spanish journalist.” Oh, well, they all look the same.

The Red Sox of course have been the Wild Card team seven times.

We are at Target for three with a five game lead.

Gorgeous What?

I have to believe that Adrian Garcia’s handlers told him after the Houston Area Women’s Chamber of Commerce Mayoral Forum yesterday that referring to his hosts as “gorgeous ladies” probably wasn’t a good idea.

The ‘Stros visit the Twins this weekend. Name the four Baseball Hall of Fame greats wearing Twins gear?

Mayoral candidate and Council Member Steve Costello put this out yesterday:

Council Member Costello did not support the Houston Organization of Public Employees’ new contract passed by City Council this morning. The new contract will cost between $37 million and $45 million over the next three fiscal years and includes an increase in minimum salaries to $12 per hour. Council Member Costello voiced concerns about committing the city to increased salaries when facing layoffs due to the $126 million deficit projected in the next fiscal year.

“I support increasing the salaries of our lowest paid city workers, and I would have supported a one-year deal to accomplish this. However, I simply cannot support the additional raises included in the contract when the city of Houston faces deficits of over $100 million each year for the next five years,” Costello said.

Costello has also come out in support of hiring 1,500 new police officers.

You do the math because I can’t.

Tonight’s Mayoral Candidate Forum is hosted by Super Neighborhood #6 and the Old Acres Homes Citizen Council. I am predicting that Ben Hall will go aggressive on Rep. Sylvester Turner. The setting plays to Ben’s style if you know what I mean.

Bert Blyleven, Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew, and Kirby Puckett of course are in the Hall of Fame wearing Twins gear.

We took the season series with the Yankees. It is August 27 and we have a 5 ½ game lead with 34 games remaining. Including today, there are six Thursdays remaining in the season and we only play on one of them – Thursday, September 17 in Arlington.


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